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fowl of the forest. The cart being driven off with the prisoner in this state, a great part of the mob accompanied, with the usual exclamation of “ Liberty, and no excise law. Down with all excise officers."
Born in Philadelphia, Penn., 1748. Died there, 1836.
HE VISITS JOHNSON AND GOLDSMITH.
[Written to Bishop Hobart, September, 1819.- Memoir of the Life of Bishop White. 1839. HA
AVING mentioned some literary characters, who became personally
known to me in the university, I will not omit, although extra. neous to it, that giant of genius and literature, Dr. Samuel Johnson. My introduction to him was a letter from the Rev. Jonathan Odell, formerly missionary at Burlington. The Doctor was very civil to me. I visited him occasionally; and I know some who would be tempted to envy me the felicity of having found him, one morning, in the act of preparing his dictionary for a new edition. His harshness of manners never displayed itself to me, except in one instance; when he told me that had he been prime-minister, during the then recent controversy concerning the stampact, he would have sent a ship-of-war, and levelled one of our principal cities with the ground. On the other hand, I have heard from him sentiments expressive of a feeling heart; and convincing me, that he would not have done as he said. Having dined in company with him, in Kensington, at the house of Mr. Elphinstone, well known to scholars of that day, and returning in the stage-coach with the Doctor, I mentioned to him there being a Philadelphia edition of his “Prince of Abyssinia." He expressed a wish to see it. I promised to send him a copy on my return to Philadelphia, and did so. He returned a polite answer, which is printed in Mr. Boswell's second edition of his Life of the Doctor. Mr. (since the Rev. Dr.) Abercrombie's admiration of Dr. Johnson had led to a correspondence with Mr. Boswell, to whom, with my consent, the letter was sent.
This reminds me of another literary character, a friend of Johnson, Dr. Goldsmith. We lodged, for some time, near to one another, in Brick Court, of the Temple. I had it intimated to him, by an acquaintance of both, that I wished for the pleasure of making him a visit. It ensued ; and in our conversation it took a turn which excited in me a painful sensation, from the circumstance that a man of such a genius
should write for bread. His “Deserted Village" came under notice; and some remarks were made by us on the principle of it—the decay of the peasantry. He said, that were he to write a pamphlet on the subject, he could prove the point incontrovertibly. On his being asked why he did not set his mind to this, his answer was: “ It is not worth my
while. A good poem will bring me one hundred guineas; but the pamphlet would bring me nothing." This was a short time before my leaving of England, and I saw the Doctor no more.
REMINISCENCES OF WASHINGTON.
[Written to Hugh Mercer, November, 1832. —From the Same.] THE father of our country, whenever in this city, as well during the
revolutionary war as in his Presidency, attended divine service in Christ Church of this city; except during one winter; when, being here for the taking of measures with Congress toward the opening of the next campaign, he rented a house near to St. Peter's Church, then in parochial union with Christ Church. During that season, he attended regularly at St. Peter's. His behavior was always serious and attentive; but as your letter seems to intend an inquiry on the point of kneeling during the service, I owe it to truth to declare, that I never saw him in the said attitude. During his Presidency, our vestry provided him with a pew, ten yards in front of the reading-desk. It was habitually occupied by himself, by Mrs. Washington, who was regularly a communicant, and by his secretaries.
Although I was often in company of this great man, and had the honor of dining often at his table, I never heard anything from him that could manifest his opinions on the subject of religion. I knew no man who seemed so carefully to guard against the discoursing of himself or of his acts, or of anything pertaining to him: and it has occasionally occurred to me, when in his company, that if a stranger to his person were present, he would never have known, from anything said by the President, that he was conscious of having distinguished himself in the eyes of the world. His ordinary behavior, although unexceptionably courteous, was not such as to encourage obtrusion on what might be in his mind.
On the day before his leaving of the Presidential chair a large company dined with him. Among them were the foreign ministers and their ladies, Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Mr. Jefferson, with other conspicuous persons of both sexes. During the dinner much hilarity prevailed; but
on the removal of the cloth it was put an end to by the President: certainly without design. Having filled his glass, he addressed the company, with a smile on his countenance, as nearly as can be recollected in the following terms: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last time I shall drink your a
health as a public man. I do it with sincerity, and wishing you all possible happiness.” There was an end of all pleasantry. He who gives this relation accidentally directed his eye to the lady of the British minister (Mrs. Liston), and tears were running down her cheeks
Born in Lancaster Co., Penn., 1749. Dies at Charleston, 8. C., 1815.
THE PRISONERS OF THE REVOLUTION.
[The History of the American Revolution. 1789.] ANY circumstances concurred to make the American war parMANY
ticularly calamitous. It was originally a civil war in the estimation of both parties, and a rebellion to its termination, in the opinion of one of them. Unfortunately for mankind doubts have been entertained of the obligatory force of the law of nations in such cases. The refinement of modern ages has stripped war of half its horrors, but the systems of some illiberal men have tended to reproduce the barbarism of Gothic times, by withholding the benefits of that refinement from those who are effecting revolutions. An enlightened philanthropist em braces the whole human race, and inquires not whether an object of distress is or is not an unit of an acknowledged nation. It is sufficient that he is a child of the same common parent, and capable of happiness or misery. The prevalence of such a temper would have greatly lessened the calamities of the American war, but while from contracted policy, unfortunate captives were considered as not entitled to the treatment of prisoners, they were often doomed without being guilty, to suffer the punishment due to criminals.
The first American prisoners were taken on the 17th of June, 1775. These were thrown indiscriminately into the jail at Boston, without any consideration of their rank. Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Gage on this subject, to which the latter answered by asserting that the prisoners had been treated with care and kindness, though indiscriminately “ as he acknowledged no rank that was not derived from the King.” To which Gen. Washington replied: “You affect, sir, to despise all rank not derived
from the same source with your own; I cannot conceive one more honorable than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source and original fountain of all power."
The capture of Gen. Lee proved calamitous to several individuals. Six Hessian field officers were offered in exchange for him, but this was refused. It was said by the British, that Lee was a deserter from their service, and as such could not expect the indulgences usually given to prisoners of war. The Americans replied, that as he had resigned his British commission previously to his accepting one from the Americans, he could not be considered as a deserter. He was nevertheless confined, watched, and guarded. Congress thereupon resolved, that Gen. Washington be directed to inform Gen. Howe, that should the proffered exchange of Gen. Lee for six field officers not be accepted, and the treatment of him as above mentioned be continued, the principles of retaliation should occasion five of the said Hessian field officers, together with Lt.Col. Archibald Campbell to be detained, in order that the said treatment which Gen. Lee received should be exactly inflicted on their persons. The Campbell thus designated as the subject of retaliation was a humane man, and a meritorious officer, who had been captured by some of the Massachusetts privateers near Boston, to which, from the want of infor: mation, he was proceeding soon after the British had evacuated it. The above act of Congress was forwarded to Massachusetts, with a request that they would detain Lt. Col. Campbell and keep him in safe custody till the further order of Congress. The council of Massachusetts exceeded this request, and sent aim to Concord jail, where he was lodged in a gloomy dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square. The attendance of a single servant on his person was denied him, and every visit from a friend refused.
The prisoners captured by Sir William Howe, in 1776, amounted to many hundreds. The officers were admitted to parole, and had some waste houses assigned to them as quarters; but the privates were shut up in the coldest season of the year in churches, sugar-houses, and such like large open buildings. The severity of the weather, and the rigor of their treatment, occasioned the death of many hundreds of these unfortunate men.
The filth of the places of their confinement, in consequence of fluxes which prevailed among them, was both offensive and dangerous. Seven dead bodies have been seen in one building, at one time, and all lying in a situation shocking to humanity. The provisions served out to them were deficient in quantity, and of an unwholesome quality. These suffering prisoners were generally pressed to enter into the British service, but hundreds submitted to death rather than procure a melioration of their circumstances by enlisting with the enemies of their country. After Gen. Washington's successes at Trenton and Princeton,
the American prisoners fared somewhat better. Those who survived were ordered to be sent out for exchange, but some of them fell down dead in the streets, while attempting to walk to the vessels. Others were so emaciated that their appearance was horrible. A speedy death closed the scene with many.
The American board of war, after conferring with Mr. Boudinot, the commissary-general of prisoners, and examining evidences produced by him, reported among other things : " That there were 900 privates and 300 officers of the American army prisoners in the city of New York, and about 500 privates and 50 officers prisoners in Philadelphia ; that since the beginning of October all these prisoners, both officers and privates, had been confined in prison-ships or the Provost; that from the best evidence the subject could admit of, the general allowance of prisoners, at most did not exceed four ounces of meat per day, and often so damaged as not to be eatable; that it had been a common practice with the British, on a prisoner's being first captured, to keep him three, four or five days without a morsel of meat, and then to tempt him to enlist to save his life; that there were numerous instances of prisoners of war perishing in all the agonies of hunger.”
About this time there was a meeting of merchants in London, for the purpose of raising a sum of money to relieve the distresses of the American prisoners, then in England. The sum subscribed for that purpose amounted in two months to £4,647 158. Thus while human nature was dishonored by the cruelties of some of the British in America, there was a laudable display of the benevolence of others of the same nation in Europe. The American sailors, when captured by the British, suffered more than even the soldiers which fell into their hands. The former were confined on board prison-ships. They were there crowded together in such numbers, and their accommodations were so wretched, that diseases broke out and swept them off in a manner that was sufficient to excite compassion in breasts of the least sensibility. It has been asserted, on as good evidence as the case will admit, that in the last six years of the war upward of eleven thousand persons died on board the Jersey, one of these prison-ships, which was stationed in East River, near New York. On many of these, the rites of sepulture were never, or but very imperfectly, conferred. For some time after the war was ended, their bones lay whitening in the sun, on the shores of Long Island. The distresses of the American prisoners in the Southern States
, prevailed particularly toward the close of the war. Colonel Campbell
, who reduced Savannah, though he had personally suffered from the Americans treated all who fell into his hands with humanity. Those who were taken at Savannah and at Ashe's defeat, suffered very much from his successors in South Carolina. The American prisoners, with a few ex